SWEEPING AGAIN

Lost, this.
Lost, thus.

Goddess of sleep
descends.
Stream-of-consciousness

wages a feeble war

to defy
her armor.

Her edges pull down
A tent for the now-superior
stupor.

The brain—an organ
of electro-chemical
relationships,
toxic or devoid.

Transactions
missing
syn-
apses,
useless
syntax.

The final lime green flickers
of fireflies, a sad excuse
to peel the eyes
for awareness.

I am sweeping, this.
Sweeping, thus.

The broken china
and depression glass
lemon lime pink amber
shards to scoop up into
tomorrow’s dustbin
or the garden bed’s
cheerful mosaic (music).

Wearing the sweater-shawl
my father darned
or the flannel jacket of blues and grays
like his stormy eyes—
the jacket from too-many days
in the hospital, too few of hospice.

I am sweeping, thus.
To stay busy, distracted
from too many storms
on the encroaching
horizon
beckoning
their chaos.

I have seen you, too,
at the dangerous peripheries
of imagination. An outlaw
to tell the future.
Tempting the impossible.

Don’t look so afraid.

I am reaping, this.
Weeding the meaningless
and riffraff, flotsam
and jetsam after the ship
crash
into the pillar-stones.

Tomorrow I shall plant new
ideas and things
I’ll dream tonight
when sleep comes
with her white-down
wings
comforting the lost,
the downtrodden,
the petrified.

Tomorrow I shall awake
like you
and forget

all I need.

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SATIN LIGHT

Early mornings with café con leche in the Poetry Garden with an assortment of titled notebooks and markers and pens. (Some are permanent. Some with blur in the rain when I forget to fetch them before sudden rainstorm.) Before the heat. Before others awake.

It is a sacred space like the rapids and the shore at high tide—where I feel at home again–after dark passageways, hours, through Lethe on a small, dilapidated wooden boat (built generations back)—searching for Alethia–in the storm of knowing things.

I find her hovering over the darkest waters in the pummeling rain–and grasp at her—clinging to her robes of satin light—knowing again–she will recede–when I turn my back to look at something frightening in the outer world or within. (The dying, colossal tree on my property that fell in the most recent torrential downpour and wind (that we cannot see, only its wake)—into the branches of the living tree next to it. A welcome distraction–and unfortunately, a metaphor.

Until I remembered the cost, the bank account, the worry of cutting back the brush for the workers to get at it (take it down gently) amidst the vines that climb and amazingly, can choke out a tree—amidst the poison oak, sumac, and/or ivy. (My doctor assures me that it doesn’t matter which—since the poisons are all treated the same—but for me, will take many months to desist)).

So I write this down to remember—the mornings of clarity and subsequent hope—that we all find her (Alethia)–and rediscover our love affair with the unfurling magenta of phlox next to the cascading chartreuse potato vine, the series of sky paintings, and ancient waters flowing with gravitational pull in a cycle that somehow keeps going, does not end. And find ourselves–what we have chosen to become in the labyrinth of what has been chosen for us, mapped by DNA, some Creator perhaps—a chess game with other forces—and the language we use to transcribe it, become. (Death, you are not winning yet. (Though you lurk in the wings for all.).)

I dreamed of my father in the earliest hours of morning. He was in a car crash. When I finally reached him. He explained that he was tired—and I said—Daddy, I know.

So I write this down. This early morning I think about the car crash months ago–and all that was exposed—that young doctor’s collapsed face after the MRI of the cervical spine. (O Oedipus, too bad you didn’t know.)—and set out to paint the satin light, the lighthouse green beacon—that says–Though you are exhausted by storm, it is safe somewhere up ahead.

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MERCURIAL

The silver-mercury train pierces night with fleeting clarity.

Write this down.

Dump the other notebooks you dug up in the woods (after days of torrential rains) this morning when night hadn’t yet given over (so no one would know)–into the sea.

Even the permanent metallic markers (you have so come to love): silver-blue, silver, silver-seafoam green, and silver-lilac—will blur into swirls of color in the salt water (the way blood swirls pink when the shark gets its prey)–before the narrow rule and graph paper pages are pummeled by high, rip, and neap tides.

No one else can understand your pilgrimage here. They all have their own.

Row out past the reefs to witness the schools of sardines shoaling. One direction. Then another. Though it makes you jealous. Their orchestration. That they are not alone.

Set the dead robin fish free. With that prayer you memorized. But now you are nervous and can’t remember the middle section. Improvise. Something meaningful, profound. Or just sing that lullaby your father sang to you (before he said his prayers on his knees by his bed) all those years ago.

The seagulls’ cries will pierce with their hunger. Swooping for the silver flickers in turquoise and aquamarine.

If you scream here or wail like a wild animal, no one will hear.

Try not to think so much. Become that painting in blues, greens, yellows, and whites—sunlight through clear, deep waters.

But your thoughts take off in diverse directions– galloping like the wild horses left on the shore by pirates five hundred years ago. They surge the sea-spray and the waves. Brown and olive seaweed caught in the chaos of their manes and hooves.

Think gather. Sum. Not separate, perforate, riven.

Try not to feel sorry for yourself. Embrace the porcupine of destiny’s whims written on the ancient map.

Laugh during the requisite sobbing.

Tell no one.

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THE MOON TONIGHT

Dusk returns. All the colors have changed. The French vanilla begonia appears a soft peach on the childhood picnic table bench; the first periwinkle flowers of one butterfly bush seem blue; phlox petals have taken on a tinge of lavender to blend with their bright fuchsia earlier when they began to open in waves.

The sea thistle will turn green-blue tomorrow morning, I am sure. Then silver as the July pages of the calendar flow.

All bird song has ceased as well as the frantic search for their fallen one. The hawks did witness and caw at the simple burial out front—their scalloped wings and silhouettes gliding up high.

I am holding on to things with aging hands.

Tonight I will light the paper lantern and lament the loss of most of the crickets this year that have probably, wisely, relocated to Canada.

If I were the moon rising in a mere hour or so, I would close my eyes. Tired, and all. And sleep in the burgeoning layers of cloud pillows.

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E C H O E S – [July 13, 2017]

Z:  Does it hurt very much?

A:  Yes.

 

Z:  How so?

A:  Everything hurts, darling.

 

Z:  You should talk about it. What it feels like. I want to feel it, too. And tell the others what is happening if I need to.

A:  I’d rather not think about it. Say it. Gardening, cleaning, puttering around the House, loving on the animals, writing, painting, playing my broken cello—my hands floating across the piano keys—It all distracts me.  I want to bury it, love. Out in the backyard with all my notebooks that I can’t read. They are too upsetting. But I have left their locations in the safety deposit box. I shall pay for another key to replace the one entrusted to me—that I misplaced, lost—among so many other things that I juggle. So many things, variables, and strange things, different things. I feel bad when a small percentage fall through the cracks. That I am not competent. But it’s a numbers game, no? Something’s gotta give.

 

Z:  So then—yes. It does hurt. I, too, feel its intensity. In the periphery, yet the bowels. Visceral. The underground-abyss. I have descended down to the depths to find you. Retrieve you. Be your Orpheus as I am too late to be your Virgil as I so want to be.

A:  It is difficult to speak of it. I don’t want to tell, admit to myself what is happening. Instead, I photograph and stay with the flowers, the multifarious colors of leaves, plants, herbs, lettuces and kale, Swiss chard, the ever-present, chattering / singing birds. They give to me so much. I must feed them. They visit. Adorn the Poetry Garden. Alight in pairs. Love Birds. The latest—a pair of delicate, yellow finches, I believe. Though it’s hard to forget. It’s hard to focus sometimes, darling. Though I try. My best college try. A noble effort. I long to be noble. But I am salt of the earth like my mother. Cerebral warrior like my father. I still miss him so much. Pray he is helping me. But sad that he sees me this way. Grateful I don’t have to see him seeing me. I still wail like a wild animal at moments that I cannot predict. That pull me under. You should know. Do not tell the others, especially my mother. Lost in her own grief. That lessens and reappears. Inserts itself.

 

Z:  Show me your hands again. Pretend you are holding a tennis ball as the X-ray technician from Italy instructed.

A:  It is difficult to look at them, my love. I try not to. I try not to obsess. Not to remember. Not to overuse them. I type and write by hand sparingly. I garden with tools when I can. They are visibly degenerating. Since the last X-rays six months ago. The kind doctor did not order more. So as not to upset me. There is nothing to do.

The tissues everywhere in my body give out.  The over-zealous soldiers mistake their own—a friendly fire-war. Painful to comprehend, imagine, follow.

 

Z:  You will learn to speak into a tape recorder. No one can predict when. But you shoud try. There is science. Research. Technology. Studies. Medications.

A:  Yes, it is science, yes. But so many unknowns. Holes. The world does not care. How could they? They do not know.

 

Z:  You must tell them.

A:  I am too tired.

All my energy–I conserve for my legacy. As pompous as that sounds. Every day is pure platinum. Every hour that I can identify, remember, rename as such. I am writing promises to myself, to you, to the others. I am Archiving the Future.

 

Z:  Does it hurt very much?

A:  Yes. It is a relief to tell someone. Particularly you. Do not be sad. Part of my unknown DNA. I have accepted. I tell myself. I have accepted. There is nothing to be done to stop the decay.

 

Z:  Perhaps in the future.

A: Yes, perhaps.

 

Z:  You must believe.

A: Yes, I must.

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PAINTING THE RAIN

I left my assortment of pens and markers in the rain again. Now everything I write and touch is softer, more fluid, more beautiful, less defined.

The things I painstakingly named of late have already become something else—defying porous borders: the wrought iron fences, brick and stone ones in the garden, the chain-linked fence the dog dug himself out under during the fireworks.

No, the things and objects and ideas in arrangement set to wind and bird music—will not still as I try to paint them this morning—fill all the gaping holes that stretched and grew in the night with ink, fastidious name-defying colors I mixed before my coffee, before both feet landed back in this world.

I could cry in my coffee, but what would that do? Merely dilute it with water and salt from which we crystallized.

When I am better and my body aches less excruciatingly, when I am better at everything—a better painter, a better cellist, a better citizen, a better daughter, a better gardener, a better friend, a better human—I shall pilgrimage to the sea

and sing of all my wanderings—free the instruments of my destruction in the dustbin nearest the dunes and their sharpest blades of silver-green, silver-blue, blue-green.

If you happen to see me there in the earliest morning hours of magical sunlight, be very very quiet. I have become quite skittish like the dog as if I, too, have been left out in the rain too long.

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DREAM FRACTALS

The dream fractals were particularly vivid in early hours of morning–once daylight crawled up through the open blinds. A scattering of crickets and birds exercised their instruments in the backdrop of the conscious world, while she dove repeatedly, without freewill, into waves of indigo, navy, black—then back, thankfully, into aqua and tourmaline—the childhood colors from the Victorian house her dear father gutted and her sweet mother decorated. The colors in which she felt most at home and happy.

There the sun’s hands crawled through the sea with their large pattern of glitter–warming her from the indigo, navy, and black. How did those sea creatures live in those depths, she wondered, those depths inside of her all these years. The deck of cards that amassed when she wasn’t looking, much larger, and more high cards she was learning how to play, strategically, calmly.

Perhaps it was the medication to settle out her body’s soldiers–or calm her knowledge that there were factions that wanted out–wanted their freedom. No longer wanted to serve a problematic mission.

It was best most mornings to leave the kaleidoscoping dream fractals–micro scenes that did not line up with the rational mind—and read a book–enter someone else’s brain and emotions, while waiting for the coffee and her daytime world to percolate–offer catharsis up in the most infinitesimal, degenerating hands. But she had promised herself to let go and forget all that.

No, those hands were applauding her, she mused. Yes, she was reclaiming and becoming herself–this hour–and the gods somewhere from their ethereal mountain who were handing her both high and low cards–they applauded, too. She could hear them in the last crickets of night.

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E C H O E S [July]

A:  What day is it? It’s so confusing that day of smelling fire, miserable parents rushing with their children to see the magical cascades of broken inch-worm green, peony fuchsia, red, white, and blue—tiny fires cascading down—like the Christmas ornaments my mother made but in motion, a GIF, not a still image. The frightened very young children covering their small ears, wanting to go home to the safety of their stuffed animals and their fathers—who would act accordingly should there be an intruder in the house, a frantic bat in the living room.

Z:  It is today. The page of the calendar, an invention to make it all manageable—give us a beginning, middle, and end.

A:  Is this the beginning, middle, or end?

Z:  All three. A sacred number. Like seven. The seven hawks. Four representing earth elements and the body. Three for the soul.

A:  All three at the same time?

Z:  Yes.

A:  I can’t find my new watch—the one I just bought to replace the one I lost at the pulmonary wing of the hospital. The one all the kind people tried to find for me in the lobby and my path into the testing room.

Z:  It is better for you not to have one. None of the bullet points on your daily TO-DO LIST will expire. Well, maybe one or two eventually.

A:  Why does everything have to hurt so much?

Z:  Your neck, your hands, the nerve pain in your legs?

A:  Yes. I move so differently now. Have to give up all those pairs of shoes. The things I can no longer carry in my hands.

Z:  Hurting teaches us.

A:  [silent]

Z:  Your plants, trees [pointing up to the sky], your flowers that remind you of Ciocia Helen—they all lean and grow toward the sunlight.

A:  I have learned so much lately.

Z:  I know.

A:  The planes are landing again over the field—those miracles of metal, steel, human designs of mammoth birds.

That makes me happy again.

Z:  How you deserve to be.

A:  Yes, Being. The House.

Z:  Yes, singing. The Cottage.

A:  Would you like some peach black iced tea that I brewed just yesterday—in my poetry garden with me? Can you sit a moment in the shade?

Z:  Yes, that would make me very happy.

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ESURIENCE

I was ravenous. Insatiably so. So I ate the House again. The cedar shakes, warped shutters. Then the window and screens—spitting out the glass.

The doors gave me indigestion, but I soldiered on. Eating the sandpaper roof shingles. Smiling with bits of chimney bricks in my cracked teeth—when the neighbors sauntered in.

I devoured the living room next. The white sofa was especially delicious. I would no longer have to  brush it clean with Woolite this weekend.

Then I attacked the kitchen. Greedily consumed the Fiesta ware that does not chip. Its saffron orange, peacock blue, eggshell white, and aubergine–of particular note.

I ate the master bedroom next. The antique poster frame bequeathed to me. All the Van Goghs, a Pollock, Rothko. The staring Mona Lisa. So there.

I sat in the rubble almost satiated—patting my burgeoning stomach. There was more work to do.

I ate the trees. And started weeping—not just for myself but for the plump robins, catbird, yellow finch, woodpecker, and sparrows. I devoured the maples first, then the apple tree, roses of Sharon, the white butterfly bushes, the spent lilacs (blueberry and French pink).

Hawks alighted to the next door neighbor’s tallest pines and witnessed the crunching of the patio furniture that had become rusted underneath three feet of winter snow. Half-heartedly, I ate the dog’s fence while he and the cat watched.

I spared the menagerie of mellifluous birds–their sanctuaries of wooden feeders, their new terracotta bath, their weathered houses.

Tomorrow, I shall wake very early from troubling dream patterns that cascade—sharp sea glass I impatiently stole from the shores of night wandering—and had strung on a necklace to keep the ghosts of the property at bay.

Yes, tomorrow I shall remove the odd necklace and bury it in the woods far from me.

I shall make a pilgrimage to the priest, remove my shoes, and tell him everything. Of the sorrow tangled in my sea hair, my desire, at times, for unification.

When I return, I shall rewrite other possible endings that will begin again.

I am confused by all this.

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CATHARSIS

I hit the reset button
because my thoughts were taking too much time

And the yellow primrose and fuchsia sweet pea were stunning this year.
How the primrose folded in their yellow pages into an obeisant origami
when the sun closed its eyes, and the fuchsia flutter stumbled
up my bedroom window, tracking leaves. Tiny miracles against various wars.

I had said too much from a broken motherboard
and threw away my memories when the keyboards were switched.
Keys were broken and lost. Important keys to the secrets of the universe.

Letters that needed nimble hands. So much elegant music
missing scores. Initials carved into birch trees—boasting indelible love.

And the flash drive—it could no longer hold me.
But I had lost that too in the shuffle of falling dominos and thin cards.
I had been winning, but the wind sliced my vanity into more than two.

Perhaps you know how this all feels. Or perhaps you rubberneck
at the train crash and tsk tsk, it was going way too fast
and the woman with all of her children piled into the careless SUV
should not have been in a hurry to fix her hair.

Yes, things come as surprises. Offering up the most infinitesimal
glitters of sun-crash and shattered star. At night, the crickets vie
with green-lit fireflies for noble attention. Before the catbird
signals the rest that it is time.

Yes, I slept finally in the downy clouds of my ancestors beating
through by dilapidated heart and chromosomes. Yes, I survived
many kaleidoscopic dream fractals and other nonsense.

I slept finally for days. And woke up alive.

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